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Scripps Center for Executive Health Adds Genetic Testing to Comprehensive Exam

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By Turna Ray

Clients visiting the Scripps Center for Executive Health to get a comprehensive medical workup will now be able to learn their genetic predisposition for certain diseases and pharmacogenomic response to certain drugs.

The Scripps center, which caters to an exclusive clientele, announced this week that it would provide genetic analysis services through Navigenics as part of its WholePerson exam, which costs $2,400 for men and $2,700 for women. The genetic testing component comes at an extra $850 fee.

Navigenics' HealthCompass testing service, marketed online directly to the general public, costs $999, and includes genetic risk data for 28 diseases and conditions; pharmacogenomic data for 12 drugs; unlimited genetic counseling, and risk score updates. The company's pared-down Annual Insight service costs $499, and provides genetic data on 10 common health conditions.

Although Scripps will provide genomic data on the same diseases and drugs, it seems the service to execs will be different than Navigenics' DTC service in that it will involve the physician more readily.

"This particular genetic risk analysis testing is not available to the general public. Patients must sign up for it through an authorized facility and must have a physician referral," a Scripps spokesperson told Pharmacogenomics Reporter. "A physician at Scripps Center for Executive Health reviews the results with the patient once they are made available in addition to having access to genetics counselors through Navigenics."

The Scripps Center for Executive Health is a service provided at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. The center caters to "select patients who want the most comprehensive, evidence-based evaluation of early detection of … serious illnesses," according to an informational video on Scripps' website.

As the name of the service suggests, the center's main clientele are high-ranking company execs with little time to spare. Scripps advertises that its "WholePerson Examination" takes between a day and a day-and-a-half, and test results are received within 24 hours. The center provides a "spa-like," "exclusive reassuring environment," in which healthcare decisions are made by "you and your team of physicians, not by an insurance company."

Before deciding whether to go in for genetic testing through Navigenics, executives presenting to Scripps can talk to an Executive Health doctor or a Navigenics genetic counselor.

High-rolling executives, with the money to spare on cutting-edge health assessments and not limited by insurance considerations, are proving to be early adopters of costly gene scans that the average consumer would still consider a luxury expenditure.

DTC genomics firm 23andMe, which prices its genome scan service at $429, boasts Google co-founder Sergey Brin as an investor and customer. 23andMe was co-founded by Brin's wife Anne Wojcicki. Another example of an executive early adopter is John West, CEO of Novocell and a former executive at Solexa and Illumina. West, his wife, and their two children have all gotten gene scans through 23andMe and have had their whole genomes sequenced through Illumina's service, which recently cut its price from $48,000 to $19,500 per genome.

Additionally, it is worth noting that Scripps Health, which serves a highly educated and wealthy population of San Diego and surrounding Southern California., has implemented programs to encourage adoption of genetic testing within its hospitals. Last year, Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego led an effort to test stent procedure patients for their CYP2C19 status using Quest's testing service (PGx Reporter 10/28/09).

This current partnership between Navigenics and Scripps to provide genetic testing for executives builds on an existing relationship cemented two years ago, when Scripps Translational Research Institute joined Navigenics, Affymetrix, and Microsoft to conduct a 20-year study to determine the long-term behavioral impact of personal genetic testing. Under the program, as many as 10,000 Scripps Health system employees, family members, and friends are being offered genetic scans through Navigenics (PGx Reporter 10/15/08).

Mountain View, Calif.-based El Camino Hospital, which also serves a community of well-off and tech-savvy residents, also offers genetic testing and counseling to all patients presenting to the hospital (PGx Reporter 04/01/09).

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